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Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  2 comments
When a brand that's rightly famous for world-class electrostatic panels wants to design a line of in-wall speakers, things can get pretty daunting. After all, electrostats are dipoles—sound flows from both the front and back. Installing a dipole in a wall is as useless as hanging a stained-glass window in a dark closet.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  2 comments
Trends come and go. Manufacturers lose their shirts and pull up stake. This year's hot design trend becomes tomorrow's price knockdown. Amid the hype and ballyhoo often found in high end audio, Audio Note (UK) remains an oasis of beauty, purity, and simplicity, and at affordable prices. A legacy brand that doesn't feel the need to change designs, when, after all they make music, Audio Note (UK) offered lucidity and great music at AXPONA.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
Elton John fans, forgive me. I've nothing against the man, but most of his songs do less for me than a nude painting does for a blind man (that is, we literally can't see the attraction). So it was fairly remarkable that, in the Focal demo room, the Dolby Atmos version of Elton John's "Rocket Man" made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. If a high-end rig can put you in touch with music you normally don't even care about, it's time to investigate.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Bill Duddleston brought not one, but four of his Legacy Audio systems to Axpona, where he mixed and matched components, but each system was largely unique, especially in the loudspeaker complement.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
The AXPONA experience is head-spinning in more ways than one. So many rooms, so many people to meet, so much gear to listen to. And so much regret when you realize that you can't fit it all into two or three days, unless each day were to last as long as it does it on Mercury. (Maybe one day we'll have audio shows there—sign me up!)

Another head-spinner occurred Saturday morning when I had to almost forcibly drag myself off the listening couch in the 16th-floor Avantgarde Acoustic room, where dCS front-end gear and a pair of gargantuan Trio G3 horn speakers ($180,000) had bowled me over with perhaps the most heavenly, enveloping sound of the entire show. Why did I leave? Because I had an appointment at the Devialet room on the same floor to listen to...(drum roll) a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Upscale Distribution's Kevin Deal brought his posse to AXPONA (left–right: Randy Bingham, Kevin Deal, Craig Hoffman, Alex Brinkman). Though Deal's room was static, he also sponsored legacy French brand, Cabasse, in an adjacent room, where Cabasse representative Jean-Michel Polit demoed the thrilling flagship Pearl Pelegrina loudspeakers ($20,999/pair).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
After a few hours of listening to speakers that cost well into the five and six figures, how much enthusiasm could I muster for a pair that retails for just $995? As it turns out, a lot. I'd heard the $750/pair Magnepan LRS a few years ago and marveled at how low the admission price to true high-end sonics can be. They sounded fast, surefooted, and transparent. Magnepan's new LRS+ speakers offer more of the same but at an elevated level and a slightly elevated price. Wendell Diller, a.k.a. Mr. Magnepan, calls them "higher-resolution" speakers.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Presented in the Nirvana A Ballroom with Val Acora's Acora Acoustics granite SRC-2 loudspeakers ($37,000/pair), Valve Amplification Company (VAC) electronics sounded crisp, lively, and human.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  3 comments
Valve Amplification Company electronics also appeared in the Euphoria room, hosted by The Audio Company, where I believe Von Schweikert's Damon Von Schweikert and Leif Swanson were in attendance.
Julie Mullins  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
It's showtime again! With a business and showroom in Toronto, Wynn Wong's Wynn Audio is a next-generation dealer and distributor for a number of luxe European high-design high-end brands, a few of which had new product introductions at AXPONA. Wynn's preferred equipment leans toward striking and colorful rather than gaudy or blingy.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
"The road to the graveyard is littered with corpses of subwoofer companies that wanted to sell a range of regular speakers," Gary Yacoubian observes with a laugh. We're standing outside the SVS room at AXPONA while on yonder side of the door, a 7.2 SVS Dolby Atmos setup is testing the Renaissance hotel's structural soundness with an explosive fight scene from a Spiderman movie. Fittingly, Yacoubian is ready to, you know, rumble. His company has built a solid reputation by making and direct-selling excellent-value, powerful subwoofers and providing some of the friendliest pre- and post-sale service in the industry.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Some audio equipment makes its presence felt simply by its elegance. With its Versailles-like appeal, the colossal Burmester rig in the Schaumberg A room was magnificent to behold, virtually an audio treatise in luxury. A legacy German brand that manufactures everything from nuts and bolts to speaker cabinets and drivers, Burmester, represented at AXPONA by its US distributor Rutherford Audio, brought some of their classiest, biggest, and boldest equipment—all the listener need do was indulge the senses.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
For huge sound in a huge room, you needed to look no further than the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center's Schaumburg F. Played at full volume, the momentous, quasi-apocalyptic opening of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, aka the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, virtually knocked me back a row. Only the deep bass, which was eaten alive by the room's spongy air walls, suffered. Which means that the deepest organ pedals on the forthcoming superbly recorded 7-CD Strauss set from conductor Andris Nelsons (heard in 24/96) had about the same weight as on the hi-rez digital transfer of Fritz Reiner's famous RCA Living Stereo recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
Peter Mackay of Magico Loudspeakers (pictured above) and Jeffrey Sigmund and John Pravel of Luxman America brought a fantastic-sounding system to the Prosperity room. Exceptional scale, resolution, depth, dynamics, precision, and juicy tone could all be heard—audio prosperity of the highest order.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 22, 2022  |  1 comments
The night before AXPONA's official kickoff, Krell's director of product development, Dave Goodman, was still assembling the latest offering from Connecticut's solid-state powerhouse: the yet-to-be-released KSA i400. (With that model name, no prizes for guessing the number of watts per channel.) The Krell and its associated components were set up in a large, cube-like room—on paper, far from ideal acoustically. But what resulted on Friday morning sounded powerful and impressive. I don't mean to say that anything was excessively muscular. Effortless, poised, and relaxed though? You'd best believe it.